One of the dominant dinosaur-extinction theories is that the planet kept getting hit by comets and asteroids, which ultimately killed off all the T-Rexes and Velociraptors (until Steven Spielberg had his say, of course). Scientists who have warned about the possibility of such a catastrophe devastating the planet, and called attention to the lack of monitoring capability to detect such threats, have been dismissed by sceptics as Chicken Littles. But the panic following the meteor shower could mean they are now en vogue.
Hollywood, with its fondness for placing the survival of the species in constant and deadly peril, does, of course, offer pointers on how to deal with such an event. Asteroid paranoia reached the zenith of its blockbuster potential in 1998, with two big-budget films mining the dramatic possibilities of the threat of extinction. Deep Impact had Morgan Freeman essaying the role of US president and an impressive tidal wave that drowns the Statue of Liberty. Armageddon had Aerosmith, Ben Affleck and a sacrificial Bruce Willis. Life imitates art sometimes, but it is at its scariest when taking a leaf out of the science fiction playbook.